“Our major partner in this critical area is the Australian Government through Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT),” the Health Secretary Pascoe Kase revealed yesterday.
“Despite recent reporting that DFAT is withdrawing funding for HIV in PNG, the fact is that DFAT is continuing to fund treatment support for HIV, directly through NGO programs, as well as funding Health Department HIV support projects,” he said.
The secretary said that DFAT would continue to ensure that the Health Department receives assistance so that there will be no disruption to the care and treatment services to people living with HIV.
According to the record, over 22,000 PLHIV are currently enrolled in Care and Treatment Program. This includes 1,170 children.
“Since 2011, the government of PNG has consistently supported the entire procurement (100%) of Antiretroviral (ARV) Drugs including test kits and other commodities at an annual cost of K16 million,” Kase said adding that the support from the PNG government would continue.
“The PNG Government is receiving DFAT support in many areas not just HIV treatment. They have provided support in the areas of: TB; Nursing Schools across the country; Infrastructure development; Area Medical Stores and; Technical Assistance to the Department.
The most recent of this assistance is that, just last Friday at Angau, a new operating theatre and 20 bed ward were opened by the Australian High Commissioner.
“DFAT will continue its support for essential maternal, newborn and child health interventions, immunisation and will work with PNG to strengthen tuberculosis control and prevent the spread of drug-resistant TB. Part of this strategy will be to streamline HIV services and support alongside treatment for TB,” Kase said.
The Department of Health along with DFAT and other development partners has formed a committee to look into realignment so that key program elements are not disturbed and have more impact and alternate funding mechanisms can be put in place to sustain the national HIV program.
“The Department of Health with the view to realign its funding design for more impact, will look at opportunities for shaping the HIV technical assistance towards the Global HIV Strategy 2016 – 2022 and is currently developing its strategic plan,” Kase said.
According to the health secretary, PNG and Australia have a joint agreement that both governments will work together to further strengthen PNG’s health system so it can better cope with the growing population and significant health challenges. Australia will assist PNG to achieve a more effective system which can deliver health services that are responsive to all people’s health needs - targeting improvements in maternal and child health and communicable disease control.
Picture: Pascoe Kase